Working one recent night in my studio I heard a scuffling in the tub, in the bathroom next door to my studio. This was not unusual—the tube is prime tail-chasing space as well as am impromptu wrestling ring for the siblings, toys are tossed in there and chased around and now and then they even take baths in there. Mimi was with me, I was being very dull focusing on what I was doing at my work table and aside from hearing the noise we paid no attention.
However, when I went in to wash my brush at the sink I saw that all four siblings were in the bathroom and all active and watching something in the tub that I first presumed to be a toy. Surprise when it moved on its own, trying to leap up the sides of the tub only to slide back down! I turned on the light, ran some water in the jar to soak my brush and saw that no one was immediately prepared to slay the mousie. All gathered around it looked as if they were waiting for it to put on a show.
We used to have a mousie nearly each day from September through November, and this was from well before the Fantastic Four. Kelly was the main mousewatcher and Cookie the main mouse killer, but had handed it down to the Four. I had been thinking, and still am, that they had finally removed all the mice-without-feline-sensors from the gene pool. Apparently one escaped.
I looked over the mouse, no blood, all four legs working…if they’re a little too battered I make another decision, but this one could be rescued and put outside.
A container, I thought, and a tight-fitting lid. Gone are the days when I carried them out by their tails when one tried to bite me. I’m not interested in a middle-of-the-night—did I mention it was 2:52 a.m.—animal bite for various reasons, not the least of which was any possibility of rabies plus a visit to the emergency room. I always have containers on hand because I keep all of them. With art and crafts and gardening and cooking I can always find a use for one.
The dirt in the tub is from me recently washing linoleum printing blocks. Remember when your mom used to yell at you for making a mess? Well, I’m the mom now and I make a mess every day. I’m also the one who cleans up after myself, but this, I decided, could wait till morning.
I came back and the situation was still the same. I leaned into the tub and held the container on its side next to the mouse. With a little nudge from the lid it saw the wisdom of running into the relative safety of the container. I slipped the lid onto it and gently turned it upright, heading for the back door with four dark escorts.
No one was going to escape at 3:00 a.m. either. I turned on the porch light then turned and stomped my feet as I reached the door and startled them all enough to make them stop in their tracks, then raced out the door.
Outside I walked down the steps to the yard, leaned down and opened the container and tilted it just slightly. Mousie slid out onto the cold, wet leaves, not the nice warm indoors the mouse had been anticipating on these colder nights, but perhaps it was better than being trapped in a bathtub by The Four Housecats of the Apocalypse.
Back in the bathroom, they were looking for the mousie. Surely it was here! Mom wasn’t a better mousecatcher than they were!
Later, Jelly Bean was on the edge of the tub, apparently taking the first shift for the overnight mouse watch.
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